Waking up I headed down for breakfast. While it’s was your usual buffet fare, it was still better than anything I have ever had in an American Hotel. Sorry USA, your standards for food are very lacking.
After I checked out I hopped a cab and headed over to Enterprise to pick up my rental car.
Ok, I’m not going to lie. This was my favorite part of this trip. I have always (since I was a teen) wanted to drive a right hand drive manual car. Yes I know I’m weird. I’ve been star struck with anything European and knowing that people drive on the other side of the car and road was always something that fascinated me.
One thing I didn’t pack for this trip that was a definite fail was my dash camera. I would soon lament the lack of it after hitting the road.
Making it out of Dublin was my first issue. I’m very comfortable with a manual transmission, but it had been so long since I had driven a car I forgot that you don’t have to double clutch to change the gears like you do in a semi. While working a gear shift with your right hand is second nature to me at this point, it took a bit more brain power to shift with my left. I had the option of going through town to pick up the motorway I needed, or to hop one motorway to another. I chose the route through town just to give me some practice following and understanding the flow of traffic.
Once done, I was off for Bodyke (which is not pronounced as Body-key but bo-dyke as I would later come to find out). About 3/4 of the way there I realized I needed to fuel up. I stopped at the next service station which was just very confusing.
I really kinda have no words. It was surreal and the last thing I expected to see in Ireland.
As I understand it, Falmouth Kearney was Barack Obama’s maternal great-great-great grandfather and he was from Moneygall. The Obama’s visited the village and there was huge fanfare and hullabaloo.
Back in the car I pulled off the motorway to make my final leg of the journey through the countryside of County Tipperary and County Clare. Ok, I’m not too proud to admit that I totally squealed like a kid as I steered left and right down the curvy two lane road. Word of advice, there is no room for errors on Irish roads. In America we have lots of space. Many of our roads have shoulders, or at the least a flat patch of ground if you need to pull over. More often than not, in Ireland you had road, 3 inches of dirt, and then a rock wall. This made things a bit more interesting.
As the road dipped and twisted I did what I always do when I see farm animals I yelled out their name, except adding the word Irish to the beginning. “Irish Cows” or “Irish sheep” because I’m eternally 5.
Finally, I arrived at my final destination the East Clare Golf Village.
It was exactly what the name says, a little village by a golf course…
out in the middle of nowhere…
in a town called Bodyke…
And I’m here for a week…
Well, at least I have a car!
After checking in and settling in, I headed to Scariff which was the closest town with a market to get food and gin. There is no way I’m getting through this week without gin. Once back at the two bedroom two bath cottage, I poured myself a drink and then sat there in a daze. I knew I was heading to Galway tomorrow but what after that? Oh yeah, Christmas where everything is totally shut down in Ireland. Sigh.
The next day I drove to Galway and I did a bit of walking around and shopping for presents (which I can’t talk about because they haven’t been delivered yet. I did manage to reign in my inner 15 year old and not buy one of these.
I never owned a swatch back in the day but I did have several for short stays. Usually surreptitiously snagged from a boy while they were otherwise engaged elsewhere. Hey! The Sting was one of my favorite movies growing up and I adored Ellen Brennan’s character in that movie. What Can I say?
After Galway, I headed into Ennis for some dinner at Brogan’s. I had come across Brogans back in the states when we were searching for Christmas dinner (before we knew everything was closed on Christmas) and I also had another truck driver from my company suggest it as she’s originally from County Clare.
It was pretty packed with people downstairs but I was told I could get a table upstairs. There I met three lovely women and they kinda changed everything for me. When I walked in I was feeling down and out, still kinda in a daze wondering what the hell I was doing and going to do for the next week or so. Struggling with the idea of just holing up in my little golf cottage and drinking myself into a stupor until I needed to go back to Dublin, thereby avoiding everyone having a joyous time with friends and family, or doing what I always do which is making magic happen.
As I ate, and between tables, these ladies and I talked and laughed and had a great time. They told me of their “Pan-demic” of 2018 as Storm Emma brought higher than normal snowfalls and the stores were sold out of bread and milk well ahead of the storm. Of course some people had a laugh at the whole Pan-ic.
While Becky and Chelsea regaled me with stories of winter in Ireland and how they wish they would get more snow, I shared the ultimate horror of growing up in the upper Midwest where 2 days after it snows you begin to wish it was gone, and knowing that the universe was out to get you when everyday you would wake up and have to shovel the sidewalks.
I had a lovely meal of Clonakilty Chicken which was a pan fried breast stuffed with Clonakilty black pudding and wrapped in bacon with a creamy mushroom sauce. Since this was my first trial of black pudding I thought it was a safe way to go and in the end, the black pudding was what I loved the most about the dish.
After dinner I headed downstairs to the bar to see who I would soon dub my new Irish bestie, Ellen.
Since we’re Facebook friends now, and she follows this blog I know she’ll be reading this. Ellen, you were a godsend on a dark night and your kindness will never be forgotten.
This woman bought a total stranger a Christmas gift so she would have something to open on Christmas Day. The world needs more Ellen’s.
While at the bar I sampled one of their house cocktails, The Burren. While I never made it to the actual Burren, the drink was lovely.
This delicious drink was made with Bombay Sapphire, violet liqueur, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, passion fruit purée, and Pinot Grigio and was very dangerous.
If you ever find yourself in Ennis in County Clare, please do yourself a favor and go to Brogans. While you’re there, give these ladies some love from me.
Christmas was spent…well in a drunken stupor. I had decided on a steady diet of mimosa and went through two bottles of champagne over the course of the day and night. Also, pants were not allowed. Not a bad day if I do say so myself. Plus my toes were toasty and cute with one of my presents from Ellen. ❤
Next up, Cliffs, Crows, and Customs.